How to Implement a 4 Day Work Week
While the idea of a shorter work week may seem like a dream come true, there are many benefits to be had by both employees and businesses alike when it comes to implementing a 32hr week
6 min read
12 Apr, 2022
It’s no secret that the traditional 9-5 work week isn’t what it used to be. The average American worker now clocks in 47 hours a week, and that number is only going up. For many people, this means working long hours, sacrificing time with family and friends, and struggling to find a work-life balance.
But what if there was another way?
What if we could all have a job that allowed us to work just 32 hours a week without losing any income or benefits?
In this article, we (with input from MentorCruise) will be explaining exactly what those benefits are, as well as how you can go about implementing a 32-hour work week in your business.
Let's get started!
What Does a 32-Hour Work Week Look Like?
As you might have guessed from the name, a 32-hour work week is a working arrangement that sees employees working for around 30-32 hours per week rather than the standard 40 hours. Not exactly a revelation, I know!
While that definition may seem pretty cut and dry, there are actually a few forms 32-hour work weeks can take in practice, including:
- Work weeks consisting of 4 normal days (e.g., 4 × 8-hour days = 32 hours per week)
- Work weeks consisting of 5 short days (e.g., 5 × 6-hour days = 30 hours per week)
- Work weeks consisting of 3 long days (e.g., 3 × 10-hour days = 30 hours per week)
Of those three options, the first is the most common by a pretty significant margin. The four-day work week (a.k.a., 4DWW) model has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many companies and countries beginning to explore the potential benefits—more on that later!
A Brief History of the 32-Hour Work Week
Before we dive into the benefits of adopting a 32-hour work week, let's quickly cover the evolution of the norms and regulations surrounding working hours.
The concept of shortening the standard work week to prioritize health and productivity is actually nothing new. All the way back to 1817, Robert Owen—a Welsh businessman and social reformer—began campaigning for an 8-hour work day to replace the 12-hour work day(!) that was standard at the time.
Robert Own was the work-life balance OG
The next stop on our historical tour is the early 1900s. As factory jobs became more commonplace, labor unions began campaigning for a shorter work week as a way to reduce worker fatigue and improve safety conditions. In 1916, Henry Ford—the founder of the Ford Motor Company—shocked headlines when he announced that his company would be shortening the work week for his employees to 40 hours over 5 days. That's right; you have Henry Ford to thank for your two-day weekend!
The 5 day work week experiment was made permanent at Ford in July 1926
The historical trend towards shorter working hours is pretty clear. Today, the new frontier is the 32-hour work week, but the arguments against it are the same:
- How can reducing hours make people more productive?
- Won't that hurt our bottom line?
- Why fix something that isn't broken?
As you'll come to see, all these questions can be answered—and pretty compellingly at that!
The Benefits of a 32-Hour Work Week
So, now that you have a general understanding of what a 32-hour work week is, it's time to take a look at some of the benefits both employees and businesses can expect to see when adopting one.
There are a surprising number of benefits impacting all areas of business and life, including:
- Improved Work-Life Balance
- Increased Productivity
- Reduced Stress Levels
- Increased Business Creativity
- Improved Employee Morale
- Reduced Operational Costs
- Improved Recruitment and Retention
- And much more...
See our full list of 25+ benefits of the 4 day work week.
How to Implement a 32-Hour Work Week
Now that you know some of the benefits of a 32-hour work week, it's time to learn how to implement one in your business. While the process will vary depending on your specific organization, there are a few key steps you'll need to take.
1. Assess Your Business Needs
Before you can start implementing a shorter work week, you first need to assess your needs. What is the current workload like? How many hours do employees currently work? What are your business goals for the future?
Would you like a 4 day work week?
2. Talk to Your Employees
Once you've decided that a shorter work week is right for your business, it's time to start talking to your employees about it. This is an important step, as you'll need to get their feedback and buy-in before moving forward.
3. Define the New Work Week
Once you've assessed your business needs and engaged with your employees, you can start to define the new work week. As you start this process, think you'll need to answer questions like:
- What days will employees work?
- What hours will they work?
- How will employee break times be structured?
4. Train Your Managers
Once you have a plan in place, it's important to train your managers on how to implement it. This will help ensure that the shorter work week is implemented smoothly and effectively.
5. Implement the New Work Week
After you've communicated with your employees, you can start to implement the new work week. Start by gradually reducing hours until you reach the desired 32-hour mark.
6. Evaluate Results
It's incredibly important to evaluate the results of your 32-hour work week. Did employees finish their work in the allotted time? Did morale improve? Was there a decrease in costs? These are all questions you'll need to ask in order to determine whether or not a shorter work week is right for your business.
7. Be Flexible
Finally, it's important to be flexible as you implement a shorter work week. This means that you may need to make some adjustments along the way, and that's okay.
A 32-hour work week can have many benefits for both employees and businesses. In order to implement a 32-hour work week in your business, you first need to assess your needs and talk to your employees. Once you have a plan in place, it's important to train your managers and be flexible as you make adjustments.
4 Day Week Pilots
If you'd like more support in switching to a 4 day work week, you may prefer to join a 4 day week coordinated pilot, such as those offered by 4 Day Week Global.
How it works
The pilot program revolves around two main phases:
- Planning Phase: This initial phase is crucial for success. Organizations receive assistance in creating a feasible 4-day work week schedule, setting clear objectives, devising a communication strategy, and preparing for various scenarios. Participating entities also have the opportunity to join a global research initiative, allowing for benchmark comparisons with other organizations.
- Trial Phase: Here, 4dayweek.com's experts step in to aid companies in reimagining their workday. This involves technological upgrades, work culture reforms, and overhauls in daily operations. The package includes resources like curated courses, workshops, and consistent guidance from the lead team.
What they offer
- Training: Beneficiaries receive training from international organizations experienced in the 4-day work model, equipped with virtual events, digital resources, and workshops.
- Mentoring: Connect directly with the experts! Pioneers of the 4-day work week model offer invaluable insights, real-time discussions, and office hours for consultations.
- Community Membership: Join a vibrant global community of fellow participants, enabling peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. Successful accreditation as a 4 Day Week employer grants a free first-year membership.
- Research & Analysis: Dive deep with comprehensive studies conducted by top-tier academics, assessing the myriad impacts of a reduced work week.
Participants also gain the privilege of using the "Pathway" badge on their digital platforms, showcasing their commitment to this innovative approach.
The timeline is straightforward: the program kicks off with informational sessions five to six months prior. Organizations have until three months out to sign up. The subsequent months consist of meticulous preparation, with the six-month trial period capping the experience.
Ready to Implement a 32-Hour Work Week?
The benefits of implementing a 32-hour work week for businesses are numerous but if you're still not convinced check out our breakdown of 25+ benefits of the 4 day work week, or check out those companies already doing it.